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Perth, Dec 2 – Australia opener Usman Khawaja hailed Babar Azam as one of the best batters across formats.

Pakistan’s tour of Australia will comprise three Tests, with the first game starting on December 14.

The Men in Green will be led by a new skipper, Shan Masood, but all eyes will be on their former leader, Babar Azam.

With an average of 47.74 and nine hundred to his name, Babar is the most prolific batter for Pakistan in recent years. When he arrived in Australia as a 22-year-old youngster, he found the going tough, scoring 68 runs from his six innings, an ICC report said.

However, the batter showed his class during his next outing, Down Under. He was Pakistan’s highest run-getter, averaging 52.5 on the tour with a century and a next-best of 97.

Khawaja believes that the Babar challenge will be one to look forward to for his side.

“Babar Azam is one of the best batsman in all three formats. Steve Smith is the greatest batsman of our era,” Khawaja told reporters.

“When they both will be playing here in the Benaud-Qadir series, it would be exciting. Matching Babar with Smith is almost like matching Smith with Kohli,” he said.

“He performs not only in Pakistan but actually does really well in Australian conditions too. He’s scored hundreds out here in the past,” Khawaja said.

To his understanding, this is one of the strongest teams from Pakistan to visit the Australian shores.

“I actually think this is one of the strongest teams they’ve had come over. You’ve got Babar; Imam-ul-Haq scores a lot of runs, so does Abdullah Shafique. They’ve always had great fast bowling and spin to match,” Khawaja said.

“They’re one of the better teams in the world. Normally, when they’ve come out, you think that maybe their batting might not be able to match, but I’m really excited because I think it’s going to be a really good challenge,” he added.

Pakistan will be up against a formidable opponent down under and would be keen to improve their Test record in the country. The last time they won a Test here was during the 1995–96 season. They’ve lost 14 consecutive Tests in Australia since then.